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City authorizes bids for 2012 street projects, puts parallel taxiway project on hold

The Morris City Council authorized City Manager Blaine Hill to begin advertising for bids for this year's street improvement projects at their regular meeting on Tuesday.

The project includes regular street overlay work as well as improvements on a number of local streets - the Fire Hall parking lot, Iowa Avenue from East 7th Street to Highway 28, Glendale Avenue, Meadow Lane, Ridge Road and State Aid Highway roads along Wyoming Avenue from Highway 28 to West 8th Street, South Street from Atlantic Avenue to Columbia Avenue and South California from South Street to Elm Street.

The plans also include adding handicapped sidewalk crossings along State Aid Highway roads.

The city's consulting engineer, Widseth Smith Nolting, has estimated the project will cost about $393,00 - about $233,500 for State Aid Highway roads and $159,500 for regular franchise work.

Hill said he anticipates the city will get at least one good bid on the project which will bring the cost down.

Bids will open on Thursday, May 3 at 10 a.m., with the expectation that the council will be able to approve a bid at their regular meeting on May 8.

Parallel taxiway project officially put on hold

A project to add a parallel taxiway at the Morris Municipal Airport has been put on hold as a result of a change in federal funding that would effectively double the local share of the project's cost.

After a meeting last Friday, the Airport Advisory Committee recommended that the city complete the current engineering work that is being done for the project, but not move any further.

Currently, an environmental assessment has been completed, engineering for the project has been funded and is nearly completed and the land acquisition has been funded and is being completed. The city will finish the engineering study and perhaps put an agreement together with the land owner to buy the land at a future date.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently changed its funding practices, requiring that local municipalities fund 10 percent of the project, rather than the five percent local match that was required when work on the parallel taxiway project began. This change would have increased the city's share from $65,000 to $130,000.

Now that the parallel taxiway project is on hold, the Airport Advisory Board will take a look at other possible projects and needs after gathering more information about what improvements could be made.

Other business

• The council approved $80,000 for a new sewer jetter machine to help continue with sewer maintenance. Public Works Director Jim Dittbenner said about one-third of the city's sewers are cleaned every year.

• The council approved an agricultural land lease at the Morris airport with MTM Farms. The updated lease includes restrictions about where crops can be planted and the depth of tillage. The farmer who previously leased the land only hayed the property; MTM Farms plans to do some crop planting.

Mike Schneider, president of MTM Farms, said the company would be taking precautions while they farmed and were willing to work within the more restrictive parameters of the new lease.

• The council authorized the Morris Fire Department to apply for three upcoming grants that, if received, could help pay for a foam trailer and thermal imager, additional turn out gear and a vehicle stabilization kit.

• Mayor Sheldon Giese appointed Josh Kurpiers to the Morris Planning Commission.